Editor's note: Story written and contributed by Weston High School student Meredith Braunstein.
How does the fantasy world of Dungeons & Dragons parallel the reality of young
friends coping with tragedy? Weston High Theater Company’s student-written play Rules of the Game demonstrates how close they can be.
Rules of the Game is the annual student-written one-act play that will be entered in the Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild Festival. The plot centers on a group of graduate student roommates coping with the discovery of an online suicide note by one their friends. Characters are involved in the game Dungeons & Dragons, as well as computer hacking, both of which have a key role in what the friends discover about the death of their roommate.
Director John Minigan believes that the different levels of emotion in Rules of the Game result in a memorable performance performed by an ensemble of 19 students.
“It’s the most emotionally engaging show we’ve ever written. We’ve never had a show that looks as closely at the complexity of relationships and also has such wild humor,” Minigan said.
The students who write the show watch the characters they create develop over
time. For senior Lucy Hastings, who plays a young woman caught in a love triangle with her roommates, the characters they create are full of emotions of their own.
“We're the ones who create the characters and decide on what their personalities should be like through an organic process, so we know the characters better than anyone,” Hastings said.
Other cast members agree that by creating characters themselves, they are able to watch those characters develop over the course of the show.
“All of the characters in the show have come to life out of characters that we created ourselves, so we know all of these characters better than any actor ever could. This allows the actors to be incredibly well informed while making choices on stage,” said senior Reid Gilbard, who plays the roommate that causes a tragedy his friends and family are forced to deal with.
Rules of the Game will compete in the preliminary round of drama festival, along with seven other one-act shows, and only three shows from each of the 14 preliminary sites will move on to the semi-finalist round. The fact that Weston will be performing in front of many different schools at drama festival motivates the ensemble to work hard and create a piece they can be proud of.
“The fact that we’re performing at other schools makes people work harder. It’s easier [to perform] in front of friends and family, but with this show we have to be engaging and clear to strangers,” Minigan said.
Students believe that in creating a show, it is most important that the audience feels a connection to what they are watching.
“It's about conveying the truth and making the audience feel the raw emotions that we feel while we're on stage. The competition aspect is a low second to that,” Hastings said.
Since the rules of drama festival prohibit any show from exceeding 40 minutes, actors have the unique challenge of pulling the audience into their world and keeping them entranced throughout.
“[Rules of the Game] is really fast paced and exciting. Things are constantly developing, and pulling you to the edge of your seat. You'll never see what's coming next, and all of the transitions between scenes are fluid so there's never a dull moment,” Gilbard said.
In addition to its having a mesmerizing plot, students believe that the fact that their show is student-written causes it to be a true original.
“I feel like our show is a lot different than a lot of shows that go to festival because it's 100 percent ours. It makes us a lot more attached to the show, which contributes to us simply wanting our show to be well received and understood while a lot of peoples' top priority is the competition aspect of festival,” Hastings said.
Rules of the Game will be performed on March 1 and March 2 at 7:30 p.m. in the Weston High School Auditorium. Tickets are $5 and are available at the door. It will be performed at Drama Festival at Oak Middle School in Shrewsbury, Mass. on March 3 at 9 a.m. Tickets are $10 and are available at the door.